Manual Horizontal Consistency in the European Union External Action

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Moreover, Catherine Ashton was the first to hold the office of High Representative, and it was not clear from the onset which role she could play exactly. The other actors — mainly the EU member states and the European Commission — had a comparative advantage regarding information on the EEAS, as they knew very early that the EEAS could possibly take over some of their tasks. Already in , the permanent representatives of the EU member states started a preliminary discussion on the technicalities of the EEAS. The European Commission and the Council Secretariat were also present at these meetings.

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These discussions proceeded in and intensified in , because of a report by the Swedish Presidency. This agreement was needed to create a framework for the High Representative, who could then negotiate the further details for construction of the EEAS. Furthermore, the EU member states made it clear from the beginning that at least one-third of all EEAS staff including the delegations staff at administrator level would be staff from the member states, and that they should be treated similarly to the staff coming from the European Commission and the Council.

Indeed, the most interesting issues at that time for both the European Commission and the EU member states were the scope of the EEAS and the tasks of the High Representative, because these would strongly affect their responsibilities and therefore their power in EU foreign policy. In October , the Presidency Report to the European Council on the EEAS mentioned that the development policy would remain the responsibility of the European Commission, in addition to trade and enlargement policy which had already been mentioned in the report.

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Indeed, the European Commission succeeded at that point in convincing the other actors that the obtained responsibilities regarding development policy should stay in the European Commission. He used his prerogative to transfer responsibility for the ENP to a new Commissioner, who would be responsible for both enlargement and ENP. This meant that the European Commission would remain responsible for an important number of foreign policy domains — namely trade, enlargement, neighbourhood and development policy. Even before the High Representative could start working on a proposal for the establishment of the EEAS, the EU member states and the European Commission had already limited the scope of the new diplomatic service, thus seriously affecting the role of the High Representative as a policy entrepreneur.

Moreover, the European Commission and the Council were involved in negotiations from the beginning: they were invited to the working group that Catherine Ashton composed to advise her in preparing the proposal. Especially the European Commission wanted to make sure that its opinion would be considered. It was represented by five people, including President Barroso, and they had already set up an internal discussion group in autumn to determine their point of view regarding the EEAS. Similarly, the Council and the EU member states were represented by four people.

The only exception was the European Parliament, which had not been invited. The distribution of benefits therefore reflects the relative bargaining power, which will be examined in the next section. While the European Commission stated that the member states were granted a leading role in the EEAS, the member states from their side stated that the proposal favoured far too much the European Commission.

Another point addressed during the discussion was the appointment of representative deputies who would help Catherine Ashton in executing her tasks as discussed below.

Regarding the appointment and composition of the EU delegations, the working document stated first of all that the EU delegations would be composed not only of EEAS staff, but also of staff from the European Commission. Moreover, the document mentioned that the European Commission would be involved in appointing the heads of delegations and that it could give them instructions.

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Horizontal Consistency in the Areas of the European Union’s

Although this was already mentioned in the Presidency Report of , the EU member states were now concerned that this would give the European Commission too much power over the delegations. However, the main discussion concerned the scope of the EEAS. The working document had already stated that trade, enlargement and development policy would remain the responsibility of the European Commission.

Now it was confirmed that management of the pre-accession financial assistance would remain the competence of the European Commission. Moreover, it was decided that humanitarian aid would also remain the responsibility of the European Commission. For the management of aid instruments regarding the ACP and other third countries, there were three options.

During a meeting of the College of Commissioners, however, the European Commission ruled out the first and the third options regarding the programming of aid, based on two main considerations: first, there should be coherence between all policy domains; and second, the European Commission should be able to influence part of the programming and management of all budgetary instruments, so not only the EDF, but also the DCI and especially the ENPI. The European Commission was thus in favour of the second option including the ENPI , although it was not clear how responsibilities would be shared between the European Commission and the EEAS — in other words, how institutional coherence would be ensured.

They were against the third possibility because that would give the European Commission too much power over development policy. It therefore did not want to approve the financial regulation and the personnel regulation if it was not satisfied with the proposals on the organization and functioning of the EEAS.

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First, regarding the legal status of the EEAS, the European Parliament clearly stated that the service should not be a separate institution, but should be linked to the European Commission. The European parliamentarians MEPs explicitly state that the EEAS should be responsible for the programming of all external assistance instruments except for pre-accession financial assistance. Moreover, the European Parliament stated that the parliamentary committee responsible for budgetary matters should be consulted by the EEAS for all strategic programming.

The EU member states and the European Commission proposed the appointment of a secretary-general who would be responsible for the day-to-day work of the EEAS and who could ensure external representation for the High Representative. However, this secretary-general would be an official, and thus not politically responsible. The European Parliament therefore proposed the appointment of three deputies in charge of multilateral, bilateral relations and crisis management , who would be heard by the European Parliament before taking up their tasks.

In addition, the parliamentarians asked whether the Commissioners responsible for the ENP, development policy and humanitarian aid could represent the High Representative in matters relating to their competences. Regarding the EU delegations, the European Parliament held the view that all instructions to the delegations should pass through the High Representative, and that the heads of delegations should be heard by the parliamentary committee before assuming their responsibilities.

However, the first draft regarding the decision on the EEAS, which was presented on 25 March , did not take into account the view of the European Parliament. It also confirms the view of the EU member states and the Commission on the administrative structure of the EEAS, with a secretary-general as head of the administration.

Regarding the EU delegations, the proposal for the Council decision represented a first attempt of compromise between the European Commission and the EU member states. Moreover, the European Commission was granted the possibility to give instructions to the heads of delegation on areas that fall under its competences. However, it would cooperate with the European Commission under the guidance of the Commissioner responsible for the respective policy domains. Moreover, the final decision regarding these programming stages still needs to be taken by the European Commission.

However, this agreement would require strong cooperation between the EEAS and the European Commission — that is, institutional coherence. On paper, this agreement almost entirely meets the demands of the European Commission.


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On 24 April , Catherine Ashton presented a slightly amended version of the proposal, trying to meet certain demands of the European Parliament. This agreement was rather close to the original proposal presented by the High Representative in late March On the issue of the administration and representation of Catherine Ashton, EU member states held to the original pyramid structure, but they obtained agreement that the foreign minister of the country holding the rotating Presidency could represent the High Representative on matters of CFSP and ESDP.

In return, they also agreed to the demand from the European Parliament and European Commission that the Commissioners of ENP, development and humanitarian aid would be able to represent the High Representative. Rapporteurs Elmar Brok and Guy Verhofstadt then prepared a list of amendments to this agreement, which they presented to the European Parliament on 4 May Catherine Ashton would be represented by deputies who are politically accountable. Moreover, Brok and Verhofstadt wanted the EEAS to be fully accountable to the European Parliament both in political and budgetary terms, as the European Parliament states that this is not the case in the proposal for a decision.

On the scope of the EEAS, however, the European Parliament changed its view: it still wanted the EEAS to be responsible for programming financial assistance, but the final decision should still be made by the European Commission.

Horizontal Consistency in the European Union External Action

On 21 June , these negotiations reached a final agreement during a quadrilateral meeting. This agreement contained the following compromise: the EEAS would be an autonomous body, separate from the European Commission and the Council. Second, the text states that at least 60 per cent of all EEAS staff at the level of administrator should be permanent EU officials.

Other staff members should come from the member states, and would represent at least one-third of all staff. Fourth, the agreement on the EU delegations reflected the compromise between the Council and the European Commission. Fifth, the budget would fall under normal parliamentary scrutiny rules. Finally, a secretary-general would be responsible for management of the EEAS, while a director-general would be responsible for budget and administration.

The European Commission and the Council delegated some of their former responsibilities to a new actor. More specifically, the negotiation process reveals that the European Commission and the European Parliament, in particular, had strong bargaining power in the negotiations, which is reflected in the distribution of gains.

The European Commission succeeded in preserving its full competences regarding trade, enlargement and humanitarian aid, as well as remaining responsible for presenting proposals and thus the development of the ENP and development policy, in cooperation with the EEAS.


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Furthermore, the EEAS 53 is responsible for the preparation of decisions regarding the programming of the budget in cooperation with the European Commission, which has to take the final decision about programming and which body is to be responsible for implementation. So the European Commission now has to coordinate with an additional actor besides the EU member states on important policy aspects such as the programming of financial assistance, but also on the development of policies.

The European Commission also remains responsible for implementing policies. In addition, the European Commission can give instructions to the delegations in matters that fall within its competences. The European Parliament also succeeded in safeguarding its preferences, with an extension of parliamentary control over the whole EEAS.

The Parliament had nothing to lose, since it had rather limited competences when it comes to outlining EU foreign policy. Moreover, it was able to influence negotiations on the organization and functioning of the EEAS because it had to approve financial regulation and regulation of the personnel. The EU member states also had bargaining power, but their power was more limited than the European Commission and the European Parliament reflected in less gains because it is rather difficult to coordinate the positions of 27 member states.

As mentioned above, it was also agreed that the Commissioners responsible for ENP and development policy would be able to represent the High Representative. In contrast with the other institutions, the High Representative had to make serious concessions to reach the agreement, because her bargaining power was rather weak as she had to gain most from the agreement. She succeeded in convincing the European Commission and EU member states that the EEAS should be involved in the programming of all external assistance instruments, except in pre-accession financial assistance and humanitarian aid.